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Mon 26th Sep 2022
Pre-race? Just relax!
Posted by: Team Challenger World UK
Posted on: Friday 5th July 2013

Tags  Activinstinct  |  Frankfurt  |  Jo Carritt  |  Joanna Carritt  |  Skechers  |  Team CWUK

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With less than 48 hours to go until one of the highlights of the European Ironman Summer, the Ironman European Championships in Frankfurt, Germany, British Long Distance Pro Jo Carritt checks in with her pre-race thoughts. She also offers some advice that pre-race 'routines' are not always a good thing, admitting that these pre-race moments are actually the least stressful part of her day-to-day life.

For Sunday, she's trying to do "nothing but relax" - well that and avoiding German beer and cake...

The Ironman European Championships in Frankfurt seems to have crept up on me! As the most –high profile (it's also my best opportunity for Kona Ranking Points), race that on my plan for the season, which started way back in September with Ironman Wales, this has been on my mind for most of a year.

As the date draws nearer time seems to accelerate and somehow there are only hours left before it's upon me! Nervous? Well, I have every reason to be; executing the sort of performance that I feel I'm capable of will require total mental focus and extreme physical discomfort, but I feel oddly relaxed.

Am I avoiding thinking about it? Perhaps I am – but I've been known to totally over think, plan and analyse every detail of my pre-race routine….and I don't have a magic formula. My best races have often followed the most hap-hazard race week. When answering questions at interviews, something that I can guarantee to be asked is “ what are my special pre-race rituals?” It got me thinking a bit …..

A rigid routine may be a source of comfort and confidence in some cases, but it can work the other way at times when travel or logistics mean that the normal routine cannot be applied.

Setting strict rituals around training, eating, sleeping in the last days before a race can be useful…but it can be a source of stress. What if your bike doesn't show up for the day that you “must” do a particular session? Can't find a pool within a 30 mile radius? What if your accommodation doesn't have the facilities to cook up your “essential” pre race breakfast? Or you can't find the particular sort of bread/yogurt/juice that you “need”?

You will not have the same requirements for each race - there are many factors - but with enough experience you can learn to recognize what is best for you in each situation and hopefully also learn the discipline to adhere to that!

When I travel to races I usually stay with home-stay accommodation (local people who generously offer a room in their home to visiting athletes), and the set-up is very varied. My hosts are always very keen to find out my pre race “must-haves” and special dietary requirements. I'm sometimes a little embarrassed to disappoint them with a total lack-of, like they have been expecting some very exciting and particular recipes and a detailed bed-time schedule. I tell them that they don't need to stock up on beers, and please don't buy any cake! I'll probably not help out with any major DIY projects that they're working on, either (although I have actually been known to mow the lawn).

What is important, for me, is to find some time to be alone and do nothing but relax. This is something that happens rarely in my life and so sometimes, especially when in a warm and beautiful foreign part of the world, I feel a bit like I'm on holiday! (That's why I need to be kept away from cake and beer - not so easy in Germany!). Once I've stopped thinking about my training, coaching work, and all the many other ongoing projects and ideas that I've usually got buzzing about, I find that I can really start to focus on how I feel within, and talk myself through the impending race day.

For me, that is the most important thing I must do before a race – and I can do it in almost any situation I find myself in for my race week.

Jo is a Skechers ActivInstinct Performance Team athlete, and is proudly supported by Skechers, ActivInstinct, Virgin Active, Timex UK, HUUB wetsuits, Nectar Sports Fuel, Forgoodness Shakes, Specialized and Wings Transport.

Joanna Carritt

Skechers Activinstinct Team About the Author

The Challenger World UK Tri Team - formerly Team TBC Sports Aid and Team Activinstinct - is a professional development team, which aims to help nurture talented athletes wanting to make the leap from amateur to professional, whether they are talented juniors just below the funded Olympic performance programme or age groupers that have come to the sport late but have the promise to be top UK and international professionals. The team develops both Olympic distance, and also non Olympic talent – aiming for success in triathlon, duathlon, Ironman and 70.3 events

Read more on the team website:, or in the dedicated section on Tri247.

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